Baltimore Ravens starting safety Chuck Clark got off to a hot start against the Los Angeles Rams on January 2, recording two first-half interceptions of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Clark’s first interception came after Ravens punter Sam Koch pinned the Rams inside their own 10-yard line, with the veteran safety jumping in front of Rams tight end Tyler Higbee and taking the pass 17 yards to the end zone.
Multiple analysts praised Clark for his film study and game preparation that allowed him to predict the play before the ball was even snapped.
The score gave the Ravens a surprising seven-point first-quarter lead in a game where they came in as underdogs by the same margin, per ESPN.
After the pick-six, The Rams were moving the ball down the field on their next possession, with a four-minute drive getting all the way to Baltimore’s 43-yard line.
That’s when Clark struck again, this time on a deep shot from Stafford to Odell Beckham Jr.
Clark’s second interception set up a nine-minute, 91-yard drive for the Ravens that culminated in a 22-yard Justin Tucker field goal, giving the Ravens a 10-0 lead in the first half.
Clark also broke up a pass from Stafford to Cooper Kupp that help end the Rams’ following drive, leading to a shout-out from injured teammate L.J. Fort.
Clark’s excellence vs. the Rams brought out plenty of reactions on Twitter, including this from SB Nation’s Jake Louque.
A tweet from another Ravens fan more than three hours before kickoff was also trending as it predicted that Clark would record an interception today.
The prediction is even more notable because the interception’s were Clark’s first in 364 days before his pair of picks against the Rams, per the Ravens’ Ryan Mink, and his pick-six was Baltimore’s first defensive touchdown of the year.
Ravens Lose Starting Center At Last Minute
Clark’s early interceptions turned around a worrying start for the Ravens after starting center Bradley Bozeman was missing during pregame warmups, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun. Backup center Trystan Colon started the game at center in Bozeman’s place, though Bozeman remained active and in full uniform on the sidelines.
It was later revealed via Fox’s broadcast that Bozeman had come down with an illness before the game, forcing the Ravens to start Colon instead.
Bozeman was expected to match up with Rams superstar Aaron Donald, who has been public about his desire to take revenge on the Ravens after a 45-6 blowout in 2019.
Ravens OLBs Combine for 3rd Turnover
The Ravens came into Week 17 with just 11 forced turnovers this season, the second-worst mark in the NFL behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But two of Baltimore’s outside linebackers combined for a strip-sack and recovery of Stafford during the Rams’ first drive of the second half.
Los Angeles had gotten all the way to Baltimore’s 11-yard line when Tyus Bowser knocked the ball from Stafford’s hands as he flipped over the veteran quarterback, with Justin Houston showing off his veteran savvy by being the first to react and dive on the fumble.
Baltimore’s third takeaway set up another long drive for the Ravens offense, who took up more than six minutes on 14 plays before Justin Tucker hit a 48-yard field goal, his second of the day.
Though the Rams later answered with a touchdown of their own in the fourth quarter, the Ravens will look to hold onto a 16-14 lead to keep their playoff hopes alive.